Amateur hour iced coffee usually consists of a standard brew poured over ice to chill it. The result: a bitter and watered down version that can barely be called coffee.
It's a slight improvement when coffee is chilled and then served over ice — at least in that case, not as much ice immediately melts to dilute the coffee — but your pick-me-up deserves better. That's where cold brew comes in.
Rather than a standard process of soaking grounds in hot water for a few minutes, cold brew is steeped in cold or room temperature water overnight. Since the grounds are never exposed to intense heat, the resulting coffee is smoother, sweeter, and less acidic than its hastily-made counterpart.
It's also considerably stronger than a standard hot brew: a proper cold brew is a concentrate rather than a drink meant to be consumed as-is. The addition of ice and cold milk to a small amount of the stuff dilutes it perfectly to a normal strength.
Best of all, it's amazingly easy to make. Just follow these steps for cold brew enlightenment:
Soak, stir, and refrigerate
Use a coarse grind of a light roast. Since the water is resting directly with the coffee rather than being dripped through, a finely ground blend would be more difficult to properly strain. And even if you enjoy a darker roast, a cold-brewed version will simply taste burnt, so make sure to use a lighter roast than you usually drink.
We prefer ours straight up, but you can add flavor to the steeping brew. Try including lavender, mint, chopped hazelnuts, or any other add-in that sounds tasty if you're looking to impress.
You want to use about one cup coffee grounds per four cups of water. That'll make for some very intense coffee, so you can tweak the ratio if you'd prefer a normal strength brew. Either way, pour the grounds into water, then stir and refrigerate for 8-12 hours.
If you're using a Primula carafe, this part is easy: just pull out the filter. If you're not, just double strain the grounds from whatever container you used through a coffee filter or cheesecloth.
Pour and enjoy
Fill your glass with ice, add your cold brew, and top off with a generous amount of milk to dilute it to the perfect strength.
Keep in mind that sugar doesn't dissolve in cold liquids as easily as it does in hot ones, so it's easier (but not necessary) to use a simple or flavored syrup if you want it sweeter. Oh, and bonus points for gourmet add-ins like maple syrup, almond milk, and a splash of bourbon (though probably not for your morning cup).